Communication devices: empowering communication and relationships

Posted on 29 August 2015 by Yooralla

The theme for this year’s Speech Pathology Week is ‘Talk with me’.

Speech Pathology Australia is encouraging people to tell their stories and share their experiences of communication and communication impairment. We asked George Chiou, who attends one of Yooralla’s Community Hubs, to talk to us about his communication device and how it empowers his communication and relationships.  This is what he had to say.

My name is George Chiou. I am 39 years old and have cerebral palsy.  My disability means I am unable to speak more than a few words but I use a communication device instead.

I use a DynaVox5 which I have had for about 31 years.  

I got my first communication device when I was about 8 years old. Before that I couldn’t communicate at all.  People had to second guess me or assume what I wanted.  

Often if people didn’t know me I would not get my needs met. When I was trying to communicate without my device, if people didn’t understand, they would smile as if they understood and then walk away.

My communication device enables me to use a phone, join in conversations and express my opinion.  I am able to let people know where I am and staff can call me to find out if I am coming in to the Community Hub or if I am running late.

I am able to tell people exactly what I need, what I want to eat or not eat, and I can let people know if I need assistance.

My communication device also helps me build relationships.  I can make friends by introducing myself and join in conversations with staff, friends and family.

I live in the Moonee Ponds area and often go to the shops there.  Staff at the shops know me by name and I am able to chat with them

I recently got engaged to my girlfriend Leeanne.  I asked her out for the first time with my communication device and used it to propose.  It has enabled me to get to know her – I discovered Leeanne’s interests through the device and can tell her mine.  I talk to her about where we go out and what we want to do.  I can inform staff at Leanne’s house when I am coming to visit and discuss things with Leeanne’s family.

Life without my communication device would be much harder.

Related links: 

George Chiou using his communication deviceAuthor profile
George Chiou is a 39 year-old man with cerebral palsy. George has used communication devices since he was eight years-old to communicate with friends and family. George recently proposed to his girlfriend Leeanne.



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